Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Parry Town Primary School Visit

During my stay at Sandals Grande Riviera last week, I had the privilege to visit the Parry Town Primary School in Ocho Rios. The school is sponsored by the Sandals Foundation. Picnic tables and a basketball court are just a couple of examples of their generosity. Sandals Grande Riviera General Manager Brian Roper and his employees mentor students here as well.

Before I left for this trip, I decided to pack some school supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste to donate. The kids appreciation for these small items was beyond belief. I will be forever grateful to have had this experience. Some of these kids do not own a toothbrush or a pencil.

Please consider bringing an item or two to donate to a local school the next time you go to the Caribbean. You will make a huge difference in the life of a child and the joy that you feel will be priceless.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sandals Grande Riviera Beach Club Bliss

I was invited to spend a few days at Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica last week. Sandals gets it. Their philosophy is that if the travel consultant experiences the property, clients will benefit.  So true. I mean how are you supposed to know how beautiful the beach is or how relaxing the massage is unless I tell you first hand. A search engine website hasn't tasted the food....but I have and I can tell you it's to die for. More on that in another post.

General Manager, Brian Roper and his staff made me feel right home. What I love is that after the first day, the wait staff knows that I drink iced tea with lime at breakfast. I don't have to ask for it. They know that I like the first floor. They know that I like my refrigerator stocked with Coke and bottled water. Now multiply those "likes" by the number of guests staying there. Makes my head spin. They do it all and make you feel like you are the only one being catered to.

Last year when I stayed here, the property was under a massive renovation. The results are just beautiful. I was so excited to see the new Riviera Beach Club. I can't wait to spend a week here floating in the pool  or relaxing in one of the alcoves on the bluff.....listening to the waves and the rustle of the trees in the breeze.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Who is SusanSentUs?

My name is Susan Mackley and I have been traveling for the past 39 years. I've been working in the travel industry for most of my adult life. I got hooked during my sophomore year in high school when our French teacher took us to London.

To say that I am obsessed is an understatement. To support my habit I went to work for an airline after I graduated from college.

Like any addict, the more I traveled, the more I craved it. I would start planning my next vacation while I was on vacation. Who says you can't be two places at once?

I realized that details can make or break your trip. The best and worst trips stand out in my mind. It was the small things that could have steered it one way or another. I learned by trial and error.

There are things entirely out of our is a big one.....and there are things that you can do to ensure that you have the vacation you envision.

A little bit of research before you go can make a huge difference.

I want to share my knowledge with you so you don't end up.....

Flying from Chicago to Cleveland to pick up your lost suitcase of brand new clothes......

Stranded in Acapulco due to a cancelled flight, with your spouse, who let's just say, had a stomach that would have preferred different cuisine.....

Sleeping in a hotel in Brisbane, Australia where beer cans were stacked against the door as a security measure.....

Staying in a beautiful beachfront resort in Bermuda with a view of the dumpster....

Or being awakened by jackhammers renovating the hotel next door in Miami.

Travel should be a fun, positive experience. It can be costly in terms of time and money. People tell me that they spend hours surfing the internet only to feel overwhelmed. They come away feeling confused and less confident about planning their vacation.

I'll give you tips on how to get the best room, how to pack, the best time to fly. I'll even fill you in on how you can fly for of my FAVORITE topics!

I'll tell you how to "read between the lines" when checking out hotel reviews and photos.

I look forward to making sure that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

When I am not traveling or helping someone plan their vacation, I am cheering on the New England Patriots, going out to eat, taking a pilates class, and lately I've been reading rock star autobiographies. I went back to school and got my master's degree from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth last year so that I can teach travel and tourism at the college level someday.

I live with my husband David who does not share my addiction, but loves a great vacation....and our Welsh corgi Regis, whose life is a never ending vacation.